Can You use Salicylic Acid Cleansers with Retinol?

Can You use Salicylic Acid Cleansers with Retinol?

Salicylic acid and retinol, two highly potent and impressive skincare ingredients that deliver impressive and effective skin results. The downside? They are both highly potent and if used in the incorrect way can lead to several negative side effects, such as severe dryness to the skin, irritation, and allergic reactions.

Now, the thing is, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to team these powerhouse ingredients together in your daily routine. Especially if you are prone to breakouts and regular acne flare-ups. But how exactly can you use them together to reap the rewards whilst avoiding the unwanted skin irritation. Stick around, as today we will be investigating if you can use salicylic acid cleansers with retinol.

How long after using salicylic acid can you use retinol?

As I have already mentioned, using salicylic acid and retinol together could be a recipe for disaster. Therefore, it’s important to apply them in the right order and leave enough time between applications to avoid unwanted reactions. 

Generally speaking, if it’s a salicylic acid enriched cleanser you’re using it’s best to wait about 30minutes before you apply your retinol product. This is considered the best amount of time that ensures the BHA can work at sloughing away dead skin cells, dirt, debris, and impurities. It will also allow the skin pH levels to rebalance itself ready for you to apply the retinol. As tempting as it may be to use two serums packed with salicylic acid and retinol, I would advise against using these as it will be too harsh for the skin.

Remember, before using any new skincare products you must perform a patch test for 24 hours, if there is no signs of redness or rashes you are able to apply the product to the face. 

What cleanser can I use with retinol?

When deciding on the best cleanser with retinol, remember to opt for a gentle, non-foaming formula that will keep the skin clean without stripping it of the vital oil it needs to remain healthy and balanced. Aim for formulas that contain ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or lactic acid as these can work with retinol effectively without any side effect. If you have a skin type that is oily and prone to breakouts, you may find that salicylic acid is a better option for your cleanser.

The bonus of cleansers is the fact they don’t remain on the skin surface for an extended amount of time, unlike serums and moisturisers, as they are rinsed off. This makes them a handy product to use if you are wanting to use more potent ingredients, such as salicylic acid, whilst avoiding any dryness or irritation. If you have any concerns with introducing any new products into your daily routine, consult with a doctor or dermatologist for peace of mind you are using the most beneficial formula for you and your skin.  

Is it OK to use salicylic acid cleanser with tretinoin?

No, it is considered best to completely avoid using any product containing salicylic acid with tretinoin. Unless specified by your doctor, even if you felt as though your skin would cope with using these powerful ingredients together focus on applying tretinoin as advised by your doctor until any signs of acne or breakouts are cleared.

If you are wanting to know more about tretinoin, check out our dedicated blog post about the benefits you can expect to see. 

How do you incorporate salicylic acid and retinol?

The most effective way of incorporating salicylic acid and retinol into your daily skincare routine, is to alternate when you apply them onto the face. For example, if you are using a salicylic acid cleanser, you can use it during your morning routine and then follow this in the evening with retinol. If you prefer using a serum enriched in salicylic acid, then you can apply it on the evenings you aren’t using your retinol.

This may feel a little challenging and a little complicated, but once you have got the hang of it, you’ll reap the rewards leaving you with an all-over improved complexion that has perfect clarity and a youthful bounce.

Can you use salicylic acid and retinol in the same routine?

In a word, no. It is perfectly effective to use both skincare ingredients on their own but combining them together will be too harsh for the skin. This will cause the skin to become stripped of the sebum (the natural oil found in the skin) becoming dry and overtime result in the overproduction of sebum. This imbalance will result in frequent breakouts, enlarged pores, and other skincare products unable to deliver the best results.

If you are wanting to use salicylic acid and retinol in the same routine, follow the advice I suggested in the previous section and alternate applications.

Can I use salicylic acid in the morning?

Absolutely, salicylic acid is beneficial to use in the morning and evenings, especially if your skin type is one that is oily and prone to continuous spots and breakouts. As it is one of the most used BHA, you’ll find that it is able to penetrate deeply into the lower layers of the skin and unclog pores. Another benefit is its ability to exfoliate the surface of the skin ridding it of any build-up of dead skin cells, impurities, and dirt revealing new skin cells giving you a glowing, healthy complexion. Just don’t forget to apply your daily SPF of 30 and above to protect the sensitive skin cells from UV exposure.

If you are wanting to know a little more detailed information about both of these ingredients, there are two blog posts for you to read and gain a better understanding of how salicylic acid and retinol work on the skin. You can also find out more over in our Skin School section that you’ll find over on our website.

Don’t forget, if you have any skincare questions, you can come and follow us over on the Procoal Instagram.


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